These fans in the Grand Stand on Gold Cup Day can look forward to night racing at the Garrison Savannah from November. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
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The announcement that there will be night racing at the Garrison Savannah from November is welcome news for the local horse racing fraternity.
The Barbados Turf Club (BTC) anticipates it will generate more revenue for the racing business, while some horse owners are predicting spin-off benefits for tourism.
Shortly after BTC president Sir David Seale made the announcement at Saturday’s Sandy Lane Gold Cup, horse owner and hotelier Peter Odle told the DAILY NATION: “I think night racing will be brilliant for the Barbados racing scene. A number of our punters are visitors to the island and I know if they had the opportunity to bask in the sun and come to races a little later in the evening they would be very happy.
Pointing to his private box in which the majority of guests were visitors, Odle said the implications of night racing for tourism were “unbelievable”.
“All the people in this box are repeat visitors to Barbados and they come primarily for racing,” he said.
“Night racing needs to happen,” declared race horse owner Christopher Gibbs. “It will provide a huge economic boost for the Garrison area, for racing in Barbados and it will help to bring in more tourism dollars for the country.”
In making the announcement, Sir David mentioned it had taken nine years before permission was given for the powerful lights to be erected on the Garrison.
But noting the earlier reservations of the Barbados National Trust with regard to the World Heritage designation, Gibbs, a businessman, said: “It has been shown in other places such as Kentucky, where night racing has totally rejuvenated that track and that area, so it is something we cannot ignore. There are ways it can be done that will make the National Trust people happy as well.”
Sir David told the thousands attending the Caribbean’s biggest race day that getting approval from the world body was a “costly exercise” because of the comprehensive application booklet which had to be prepared to satisfy the requirements of the World Heritage body.
But he said: “Night racing will be attractive to visitors and will as result in increased attendances which will in turn increase betting revenues and I sincerely hope those increases will allow us to purchase horses of a better quality than we have at the present.”
Last year Sir David had indicated to the DAILY NATION his desire to see an improvement in the quality of horses competing in Barbados as he welcomed the foreign horses entered in the Sandy Lane Gold Cup.
Hours before he won the prestigious Saturday, American horse owner Kenneth Ramsay said in an interview with the DAILY NATION: “I am trying to help by bringing some good horses down here to raise the bar a little bit.”
His two horses Sir Dudley Digges and Shining Copper placed first and second respectively.
Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley said night racing would open up “a brand new market for horse racing.” (GC)